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 By Emily Westlund, Program Coordinator

"I'll start my diet after the State Fair." How many times have you or someone you know said those words, maybe substituting "State Fair" for some other excuse? After the holidays. After my vacation. After things settle down. The truth is, there will always be something. We can all come up with a million excuses to delay taking charge of our eating habits. Life is full of special events, celebrations and traditions, and our culture is food-centric. Instead of delaying, take ownership now and learn how to navigate through obstacles without falling off the wagon. Here are some tips from our health coaches about nutrition and weight management:

  1. Stay away from fad diets geared to take weight off quickly. Drastically cutting calories to lose weight deprives your body of essential nutrients. The best way to lose weight is through a combination of developing healthy eating habits and increasing physical activity.
  2. Lose 1/2 - 1 lb per week. This is generally a safe and achievable rate. To lose a pound a week, reduce your food intake by 250 calories and increase your activity level by 250 calories each day (walking briskly for 60 minutes will do the trick).
  3. Keep food records. This will help you evaluate eating patterns, identify problem areas and stay accountable to yourself. We often don't realize how often we make poor choices and what leads us down that path.
  4. Eat foods high in fiber such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice and fruits and vegetables. Fiber fills you up, and eating these foods can help you control the number of calories you eat.
  5. Don't clean your plate at every meal. If you are, you are probably eating too much - especially if you eat out often. At home, serve yourself smaller portions. At restaurants, ask for a box before you start eating and take half of your meal home for lunch the next day.
  6. Enjoy foods that are grilled, broiled or baked. Fried food can have twice as much the amount of fat and calories.
  7. Choose lean turkey, roast beef or ham instead of high-fat meats like sausage, bacon, hot dogs, bologna or salami.
  8. Switch to low-fat or fat-free dairy products. It's an easy way to cut fat and calories from your diet.
  9. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Alcoholic beverages are high in calories and have little to no nutritional value.
  10. Drink water. Soda, juice and sports drinks have a lot of calories that add up fast.

Everyone faces different challenges in their weight loss journey, which makes health coaching a popular component of employee wellness programming. A health coach can be a great motivator and support person when making these healthy lifestyle changes!